North Ayrshire swimmers showed just how much improvement they’ve made in the last year by setting some gigantic PBs at the annual 200 Meet at the Portal in Irvine.

Swimmers from as far away as Liverpool and the Isle of Man travelled to compete at the event which is growing in popularity due in part to its position in the swimming calendar in the qualifying period for the Scottish National Age Group.
16-year-old Andrew Sutherland, from Fairlie, made the podium both times he swam, taking the gold medal in a thrilling tactical battle in the 200m freestyle having secured silver in the 200m IM on Saturday afternoon.
“Overall as a club we put in a fantastic performance finishing in the top three on club points which is great to see,” says Head Coach, Jess Wilkie.
“It was good to see the kids putting into the practice the technical aspects we’ve been working on in training, such as underwaters and breakouts, and I’m hoping they’ll carry on using those in their racing as much as possible, and continue to improve.
Junior Coach, Alan Dickson, echoes those comments: “200m races are very testing and require both endurance and speed. For me it’s the agony written on the faces of the swimmers in the third 50m which shows how hard they’re trying and provides all the drama.
“For many of them it was their first chance to swim the events in race conditions for a year and when you go back over 12 months, or even years, you can see clear progression.”
33 home swimmers entered the meet. “You only have to look at the result sheet to see there were some superb swims,” says Alan.
“There were bucket loads of PBs including 4 new SNAGS times.”
Home advantage doesn’t mean as much in swimming as it does in other sports – water’s water!- but what you get is first call on spare lanes on the day and 11-year-old Emma Binnie, from Skelmorlie made it count with two big PBs when she got the call up on Sunday, taking 37 seconds off her 200m breaststroke and 13 seconds off her 200m backstroke.
Daniel Convery (12) from Largs, was 14 seconds faster in the 200m free and finished in the top 7 in all his races, and Isla Waller (12) took nearly 9 seconds off her 400m free and was in the top 10 in all her other events including a 3 second PB in 200m backstroke.
“Matthew Shanks (14) had a brutal schedule on the Sunday morning with the 1500m free and the 200m fly for the first time, and he had a really mature attitude to treat it as a training opportunity and gave his all,” says Alan.
12-year-old Lauren Peckover came within a tenth of a second of matching her record time in the 200m breaststroke.
Jess Wilkie was delighted to see a number of swimmers posting times which will give them good chance of racing at SNAGS in Aberdeen in a few weeks’ time.
“The National meet is definitely something the kids see as their target and there are a couple more chances for them to get themselves on the start sheet,” she says.
“It was good to see some of the younger swimmers matching last year’s qualifying times for DRP and I’m looking forward to seeing them coming through.”
“As a team we worked really well, and it was good to see everyone on poolside cheering on their teammates.
“Also I’ve got to say a big thank you to all our volunteers – including the officials and timing workers, those who set up and take down the equipment, the team on the front door and keeping us all fed!”